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AIA to be in state of readiness by mid-year – IADC chief

AIA to be in state of readiness by mid-year – IADC chief

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The Argyle International Airport (AIA) should be in state of readiness to become operational by the middle of this year.

Chief executive officer of the International Airport Development Cooperation (IADC) Dr Rudy Matthias gave this estimate last Friday, during a press briefing at the IADC office.{{more}}

“Given where we are today, I believe strongly that within the first half of the year, we should be able to complete all the construction works and to have the airport in a state of readiness for the operation.”

The IADC CEO noted that most of the company’s efforts are now focused on putting management systems in place for the running of the airport.

He stated that senior staff members from Barbados and Jamaica have been hired to help with the operations and the ground handling. Matthias revealed that the Barbadian, who has been in St Vincent and the Grenadines for one month, has been helping to put operational procedures in place.

“We also have hired a gentleman from Jamaica, who is an experienced person in ground handling and he is going to be managing the ground handling company that we have set up,” Mathias disclosed.

“Within the next two months or so, we are going to be demobilizing and cleaning up and getting the Argyle International Airport ready for operation.”

CEO of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority Glen Beache, while addressing the media, remained tight-lipped about which airlines have expressed interest in landing at the AIA.

“Competition is also fierce out there and our negotiations with the airlines have to keep within a certain pathway and they don’t want their competition to know if they are interested…but I can assure you it’s two of the bigger ones,” Beache explained.

He also stated that while other companies may have interest in landing at the AIA, some are dealing with internal changes and a deal with those companies cannot be solidified as yet.

“I can use Air Canada, for example, which has started another airline called Rouge out of Canada and they are looking at that airline coming into the Caribbean instead of Air Canada. So, they are looking at some internal things to see what fits their model, as they speak,” Beache said.

Romel Ollivierre, chief engineer of the AIA, said that their main focus now is the retrofitting the terminal building, while the fire station would be retrofitted in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said, from reports he has received, all the earthworks and the work in the terminal building should be finished before the end of June.

He, however, disclosed that there have been some financial hiccups relating to outstanding monies.

“There are some documentation done in respect of a particular source, in which most of the monies were disbursed from a particular source, but there is a $3.5 million dollar outstanding and certain requirements are for those monies.”

He noted that even after signing the dotted line, there is often a delay between when you sign and when the money is made available.

“And that is just a part of the way of the world, but I am satisfied that the airport in every respect is within touching distance, with all the elements in place for its operation,” he said.

Gonsalves noted that he might be able to give a definitive date for the opening day of the AIA by the end of April.(CM)

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